After nearly two years of disruptions, the cruise industry continues to be impacted by the pandemic. Now, another cruise line has announced multiple cancellations to upcoming trips due to the rise of cases around the world.
In a notice posted on its website, Royal Caribbean announced canceled sailings on four ships, including Symphony of the Seas, the largest cruise ship in the world. Notably, Symphony of the Seas had 48 positive cases reported last month.
As a result of the ongoing COVID-related circumstances around the world, and in an abundance of caution, Royal Caribbean International is pausing operations for the following ships:
• Vision of the Seas’ return to cruising is postponed until March 7, 2022
• Serenade of the Seas sailings from January 8 – March 5, returning after dry dock on April 26, 2022
• Jewel of the Seas sailings from January 9 – February 12, returning on February 20, 2022
• Symphony of the Seas sailings from January 8 – January 22, returning on January 29, 2022
We regret having to cancel our guests’ long-awaited vacations and appreciate their loyalty and understanding. Our top priority is always the well-being of our guests, our crew and the communities we visit.
These cancellations come as the world continues to battle COVID, with soaring cases of the Omicron variant. Cruise lines have not been spared. Despite protocols requiring vaccinations, testing, masking, and more, the new variant has impacted nearly every ship sailing in the United States.
According to the latest CDC data, 99 of 110 ships sailing have possible cases onboard in the past week, as gauged by having either “orange” or “yellow” status on the health agency’s color status report.
As a result of cases, ships have seen a number of disruptions, including some instances of being denied entry into ports. And just days ago, Norwegian Pearl ended its trip early and returned to port following positive tests among crew. It isn’t scheduled to return until mid-January.
While these cancellations are unwelcome news, it seems likely they are not the last cruises to be impacted across the industry. With multiple lines now pushing back trips and cases continuing to spike on land, the world — and the cruise industry — is still in the middle of the crisis.
If there is any good news, it is that so far cases appear to be more mild on average. As well, some places that have dealt with Omicron have seen a sharp rise in cases, followed by a quick drop.
Until the United States sees the same sort of fall in case numbers, however, it will continue to be rough waters for cruises.